I’m not materialistic. I’m not fashion savvy. I am probably horribly out of style, and I have never felt the need to own many fashion accessories (although I do enjoy a good quality handbag). I have this year, however, discovered that I do love me some bling! My friend, Erica, and I started 2014 with a New Year’s resolution to run a race every month. We would only run said monthly race if there was a medal to be had for finishing.
I have NEVER made a New Year’s resolution that has lasted longer than three weeks into the new year. To avoid feelings of inadequacy and self-disappointment, I usually don’t even make resolutions. Also, I am not a runner. I am more of a plodder-a-longer. My lack of athletic prowess made the yearlong resolution even more frightening. With Erica’s coercion though, I agreed to this seemingly daunting challenge, hoping I could at least make it to spring.
It’s November, and I’m still going!
In July we did a very small race in Beaverton, Oregon, sponsored by a local church. They only provided medals for the top three finishers in each age group. When pressuring the race organizer about additional medals, he tried to convince me the race was small enough that I could place in my division. After I finally stopped laughing (remember, I’m not really a runner), he gave me contact information to order my own medal directly from their supplier. See, persistence pays off. And even better, they were only $4.20 each!
In October, we decided to tackle the Portland Run Like Hell race. It wasn’t one we had originally planned to run. Even though it offered a 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon, only the Half Marathon finishers received a medal. I’m actually training for my first 13.1 (did I really just admit that publically?), but am not ready for that distance yet. Run Like Hell was the event our local school district employees chose to run in support of their superintendent, a runner who is battling cancer. One of the ladies in my running group works for the school district, so I opted to forego my medal dream to be part of something more important. Darn my sensitive side!
I committed to the 10K. My one hope for bling-happiness was the promise that additional race medals could be purchased at packet pickup. That turned into a promise of additional medals for sale on race morning, which then became a promise of additional medals for sale only after 9am. One problem…my race started at 8:20am. The quantities were limited, and I was not going to finish a 10K in under 40 minutes!
Surprisingly, they still had some left when I finished. I unsuccessfully attempted to convince the merchandise sales people to save me a medal, and joined my friends in the long, snake-like gear check line to grab my money. Standing not-so-patiently in the pouring rain, the dreaded announcement came—all the medals were gone. They were going to sell some 2013 medals, but I didn’t want leftovers.
While mentally preparing myself for this alternative, a friend (you know who you are, but I don’t want the race-medal-purists to track you down) confidently marched off to get me a medal. She had completed the Half Marathon, returned to the finish area without her medal, and easily convinced the volunteers she hadn’t received hers yet. I know I should feel guilty about being a criminal accomplice, but the medal was just too darn cute and I felt like I earned it. It is also heavy enough to be used as a weapon, just in case anyone out there is getting any vigilante ideas.
2014 has been a transitional year for me. I have faced personal hardships and heartaches that I never in a million years would have imagined. In the beginning, I thought the end of my 31-year marriage would be the end of me. But what I have discovered is that I am stronger than I ever imagined. I have a wonderful support system of friends and family that I wouldn’t trade for anything and for which I am so thankful; I can stick with a resolution longer than three weeks; I am gaining confidence with every step; and know I can change my life on my terms. I am proud of myself! And even though it seems superficial and selfish, I love looking at the medals hanging on the hook in my closet. They remind me that I can accomplish things I never thought I was capable of.
Ten races complete; two more to go, including my first half marathon in December. I can only hope I can finish before the course closes, prior to nightfall, and that they don’t run out of medals.
Check out Tracy's profile, and find links to more of her stories, on our Contributors page!
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